Friday, June 24, 2011

Surveys of mid-Atlantic consumers conducted by Penn State researchers part 14

Continuing on with the Penn State study on Mid-Atlantic consumer purchasing habits, the researchers asked participants about their gender. Across four surveys, approximately 75% of participants who indicated that they were the primary food shopper for their household were female. Of these primary food shopper participants, they were also asked about where they shopped.

A total of 1,553 (Survey 1) and 1,518 (Survey 4) participants residing in metropolitan areas of New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Richmond were surveyed. Data analysis revealed that a significantly greater percentage of female participants shopped at farmers’ markets (Survey 1; 71.7% of females vs. 65.5% of males) and selected farmers’ markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms as their primary produce retailer (Survey 2; 36.4% of females vs. 30.4% of males), compared to male participants. Results are exemplified in Figures 1 & 2 below.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Press release

As an ag entrepreneur, do you find this data to be true? Are most of your customers female? Do you specifically market towards women? What kind of marketing do you do that is tailored to females?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Exploring the Gluten-Free Market

In recent trips to the grocery store, you may have seen products labeled as “gluten-free” and you may be wondering what exactly that means.

According to Wikipedia, “A gluten-free diet is a diet free of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. It is used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often hidden under ‘dextrin’. A gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease, the related condition dermatitis herpetiformis, and wheat allergy.” Celiac disease affects at least 1 in 133 Americans, states

Since people who are on a gluten-free diet cannot eat products made with wheat, rye, or barley, many products on grocery shelves are off limits. By selling gluten-free alternatives, food producers can tap into an emerging market. Datamonitor (a company specializing in data analysis for the retail and consumer packaged goods industries) reports that there is major growth in the gluten-free market. Global sales are expected to reach more than $4.3 billion within the next five years. The U.S. market is expected to grow by more than $500 million by 2014, which would make the United States 53% of the global market.

If you are a food producer, this emerging market may seem tempting. But you must do the appropriate research before moving into this (or any) marketplace. Gluten-free is not only a diet necessary for a digestive condition; people without digestive diseases are also moving into the gluten-free diet. This may mean a burst in the market place in a few years similar to the low-carb or Atkins diets. On the contrary, you might find in your research that the gluten-free market is solid based on the demand by celiac and wheat allergy sufferers. Datamonitor analyst Mark Whalley says, “Brands should focus on appealing to a broader audience to strengthen the long-term prospects of gluten-free food. However, they cannot lose sight of the fact that core consumers of the products will always be Celiacs, so relying on consumers outside of this demographic in the long term will prove to be a very risky strategy.” No one can tell you which way to go, but by performing adequate research, you can determine if the gluten-free marketplace (or any new marketplace) is right for you.

As an ag entrepreneur, do you currently sell any gluten-free products? If not, have your customers been asking for them? How easy/difficult would it be to offer a gluten-free product?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Surveys of mid-Atlantic consumers conducted by Penn State researchers part 13

In the last post, I discussed some Penn State research involving consumers' willingness to pay for organic produce. To continue on with that subject, the PSU researchers also studied the demographics of the survey respondents.

One question asked participants if they purchase certified-organic fruits and vegetables. Based on their response (yes or no), participants were then tested for any significant differences between demographic groups (metro area, gender, age, ethnicity, income level, education level, number of adults living in household and number of children living in household) to examine if certain consumer segments were more likely to report purchasing certified-organic produce.

Testing revealed that a significantly smaller percentage of participants with an annual income level below $25,000 purchased organic produce as compared to those with an income level of $100,000 or greater (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Also, a smaller percentage of participants age 21 to 24 reported purchasing organic produce compared to participants age 26 to 36 (Figure 2).

Figure 2

In addition, the data showed that a smaller percentage of participants who had received at most some high school education or were high school graduates purchased organic produce compared to participants with either an associate’s/technical school degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degrees or higher (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Click here to read the full press release.

As an ag entrepreneur selling (or not selling) organic produce, what does this mean for you? Would you change your marketing techniques to target people in these demographics? Do buyers of your organic produce fit these demographics? Is this data surprising to anyone?